Boothby Graffoe And The Following People

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

"I have been described as unpredictable," says Boothby Graffoe. "Not if you've seen me before."

And, indeed, his usual winning formula is repeated again with his 2004 Fringe show. After all, if it ain't broke

Thus we get the appealing mix of well-honed one-liners, delightfully whimsical musical numbers and surreally silly diversions as Graffoe willingly submits to the voices in his head. He's one of the few people for whom the phrase 'talk to the hand' makes perfect sense; in fact it answers back, finger by finger.

The musical numbers are given a sense of occasion by the talented three-piece backing band The Following People, with Graffoe mischievously establishing a supposed feud with his trumpeter-cum-percussionist to provide one of many neat running gags.

His tracks tend to fall into two categories: either the extended joke in which the tune imposes a big, rhythmic build-up to the silly punchline; or more fanciful digressions into fantasy. The best, such as Bungee Girl (though Graffoe doesn't call it that, obtuse titles being a speciality) combine elements of both.

With his songs of pet polar bears or baseball-playing spiders, Graffoe taps into the best aspects of children's literature ­ and that's far from a dismissal of his talents. Creating imaginative parallel worlds grounded in reality and with a universal appeal is an immensely difficult task that only a few, including Spike Milligan, can master.

Not that the show's a bland family-friendly affair ­ some of the gags are distinctly adult ­ but it's certainly a talent he has.

At his best, Graffoe is an exponent of musical comedy as it should be, lyrics and tune working in symbiotic harmony, rather than a simple device to use the power of music to prop up weak gags.

Here, everything from the dry asides to the slick jazzy band, works to the same effect: to create a warm, relaxed ambiance where evocative music and classy comedy gently lap over you. Graffoe doesn't aim for mere laughs, he aims for bliss ­ and he damn near gets there.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.